Manufacturing is alive and well in Northeast Wisconsin and beyond. The recently published 2018 Manufacturing Vitality Index conducted by the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance (it’s the Alliance’s 8th annual report) revealed that 99% of respondents expect their companies’ financial health in the next 6-12 months to be healthy or quite healthy.*
With an expected 2 million manufacturing jobs to go unfilled nationally over the next decade, the optimism that comes with growth is overshadowed by the challenge of filling open positions. The impact of this workforce gap is real, and it is significant. And in states like Wisconsin, where unemployment is already very low, manufacturers will have to continue to focus on how to bring more skilled workers into the state.
Start with your purpose.
A key part to recruiting skilled talent your organization is your culture. A strong, engaging culture not only attracts people to want to work for your company, but it leads to better customer service, increased productivity and higher sales. Your customers might not initially care about your company’s purpose, but your prospective employees absolutely will! Are you communicating your purpose throughout the job seeker journey?
The most successful companies, the ones prepared to survive and thrive in the new economy (where the rise of non-traditional business models, increased speed of technological advancements and employee choice are challenging the status quo), are the ones who mix money, mission, and purpose. The job seeker will be looking for evidence of your company’s purpose throughout their journey to employment.
6 Ways to Change up Your Recruiting Strategy
We know that manufacturers are working very hard to plan for the future workforce needs. From partnering with K-12 institutions and colleges/universities to collaborating with community-based organizations, manufacturers are implementing strategies to build a talent pipeline. But what can you do now to enhance your recruitment efforts?
1. Create a cross-functional team.
Human resources should be working with marketing and public relations to ensure full alignment. What does this mean? I can’t tell you how many times I hear from HR, “we had a job fair, but no-one showed up.” How are marketing, HR and PR supporting the recruitment efforts? What is the marketing/communications strategy behind these efforts?
2. Upgrade your digital presence.
Millennials and even Generation X job seekers are researching your company - and your competitors. Most job seekers check roughly 18 sources before even applying! Is your website ready for the job seeker experience?
Often times we will be working with a client on their employer brand and they say, “yeah, we’ve got a careers page on our website.” Most of them look like this:
Hey, at least they have a careers page! And, for the record, this one does allow you to read the job description and apply online. What it doesn’t do is tell me anything about what it’s like to work for this company. How will a prospective employee know if they are the right fit? This ties directly back to your purpose. Other things to consider: How easy is your job search function? Is your website mobile friendly? Does it include helpful and informative content about what the applicant can expect as an employee? Can they apply online?
3. Engage on social media.
Is the content on your social media accounts reflective of your company culture? Do you use social media as a megaphone to blast your message or are you targeting and engaging in a way that resonate with your intended audience? And remember, you don’t have to be on every social media platform. What you do need to do is make sure your company information is up to date on you current platforms and that you are using each platform consistently and appropriately.
4. Reach your recruits in the right places.
If you really want to get ahead in your recruitment efforts, you will need to go beyond campus visits and job fairs. Try using highly targeted digital advertising and recruiting messages to attract recent graduates. Take it a step further and target folks who grew up/attended school in your area and are doing work in similar fields somewhere else. You never know who might be looking for a reason to move back to their hometown!
5. Change how you interview.
It’s an employee’s choice world out there and candidates will ultimately be comparing you to other companies. Make sure your interviews are used to sell your company’s vision, mission, and values. Consider the prospective employees experience with you and your interview process.
6. Look into making traditionally inflexible jobs more flexible.
A key attraction for millennials, especially, is a work-life balance and flexibility. Manufacturing, long known for set hours and shift work will need to explore how to address this in order to attract talent. Human resource associations have created resources to help implement some of this flexibility.
As you work to enhance your recruitment efforts, you musn’t discount the job seeker journey. A candidate’s experience with your company from awareness to employment, and beyond, can make or break your recruitment (and retention) efforts.
*The Vitality Index survey was administered in fall of 2017 to 601 manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin who generate $3 million or more in annual revenue and with 25 or more employees. 147 companies completed either a telephone or online survey.